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HOME> Expert Assessments>Hazards Outlook

U.S. Hazards Outlook - Made February 21, 2018

 Days 3-7Days 8-14Probabilistic Days 8-14
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Categorical Outlooks
Experimental Probabilistic Outlooks (Information)

Valid Saturday February 24, 2018 to Wednesday March 07, 2018

US Hazards Outlook
NWS Climate Prediction Center College Park MD
300 PM EST February 21 2018

Synopsis: A nearly stationary frontal boundary is expected to serve as a focal point for hazardous weather across parts of the East-Central U.S. during the 3-7 day period. Upper-level low pressure is forecast over the Western U.S. during much of the Hazards period. The cooler temperatures that are predicted over the western part of the lower 48 states earlier in the period are anticipated to shift eastward later in Week-2, while some moderation in temperatures is predicted over the West. Active weather is forecast over much of the extensive southern coast of Alaska during the Hazards Outlook period.

Hazards Detailed Summary

For Saturday February 24 - Wednesday February 28: At the start of the period, a very slow-moving frontal system is forecast to stretch from Texas northeastward to the Northeast CONUS. Heavy rain (1.5-2.0 inches or greater in 48 hours) is likely over much of this region. In addition, severe weather is forecast in the warm sector for parts of the southern Plains, Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys on Saturday, Feb 24. Vertical wind shear profiles appear favorable for organized severe storms, though the anticipated severity of this
outbreak may be somewhat offset by weak lapse rates and widespread cloudiness.

The GFS develops the strongest surface low associated with this frontal boundary this weekend, and produces a swath of heavy snow (6 inches or greater) to the northwest of the storm track over the Upper Midwest, Feb 24-25. Today's 0z deterministic ECMWF run has come into better agreement with the most recent (0z and 6z) GFS solutions today, warranting the designation of a
heavy snow hazard from the central Plains northeastward across the Upper Midwest.

Snow melt and heavy rainfall during the period in areas that have frozen ground lead to possible, likely, imminent or occurring river flooding across portions of the southern Plains, Mississippi Valley, the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes.

Upper-level low pressure and areas of surface high pressure result in periods of much-below normal temperatures (negative anomalies of 15-25 degrees F) for much of the Western and North-Central CONUS, Feb 24-28. Upper-level shortwaves are forecast to cross the northwestern CONUS resulting in periods of heavy snow (amounts in excess of 6 inches in 24 hours) for parts of
the Cascades, Feb 24-25.

An occluded frontal system is expected to track from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Alaska, Feb 24-25. However, predicted wind speeds associated with this system do not appear to justify a wind hazard on the map. There could be strong gap winds through the Shelikof Strait (near Kodiak) and lower Cook Inlet, Feb 24-25, but they should be fairly localized in nature.

For Thursday March 01 - Wednesday March 07: The 8-14 day time period is likely to feature a trough over the western CONUS, which is likely to shed some energy downstream. A slight risk over heavy precipitation is indicated for the Southwest, portions of the Great Basin, and the Sierra Nevadas, for Mar 1-3. Widespread precipitation amounts are not likely to exceed hazardous thresholds, but in higher terrain and in west and southward facing slopes, local amounts are likely to exceed 2 inches of liquid equivalent. Models are progressing some of that energy to the Lower Mississippi Valley, while other model solutions favor are more northward excursion. Therefore a slight risk of heavy precipitation is indicated from eastern Texas to Tennessee and Ohio, as well as over the Upper Mississippi Valley. The signal is weak, but given the recent flooding in the Tennessee Valley, and predicted flooding in the 3-7 day period, the potential for more damaging floods warrants the posting of a hazard.

A mean storm track is forecast to steer storms into western Alaska during the early portions of Week-2. A moderate risk of heavy precipitation is indicated as model forecasts depict a slug of moisture moving across western Alaska on Mar 1-2.

The troughing forecast over the western CONUS supports hazards for much below normal temperatures. A high risk is delineated from Northern Idaho to western Nebraska for days 8-11 (Mar 1-4), while moderate (Mar 1-5) and slight (Mar 1-7) risks are posted from the Great Plains to the West Coast.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, valid on Feb 13, 2018 indicates a slight decrease in the coverage of severe to exceptional drought (D2-D4) from 18.44% last week to 18.04% this week. A few of the more substantial revisions made to the map this week include an increase in D2 coverage across southern California, the elimination of all D2 areas across the Gulf Coast states from Louisiana to Florida, and significant 1-category improvements rendered across the Carolinas, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast.

Forecaster: Anthony Artusa


Click here to see a display of the GFS Ensemble Forecasts

Please consult local NWS Forecast Offices for short range forecasts and region-specific information.